Being in a hit and run accident can be traumatic, especially if you sustain severe injuries. You may not have the physical capacity or the awareness to take much action after the event.
However, if you’re fully in control of your own mind and body, there are some important steps you’ll need to take to increase your safety, get medical attention, and ultimately get justice.
Why Hit and Runs Happen
Hit and runs can be deadly and terrifying. It seems unconscionable that someone would strike another vehicle, or a pedestrian, and just take off without accepting responsibility. In many cases, the driver in a hit and run is either afraid for their future or unaware of what they’ve done.
For example, the driver may have an outstanding warrant for their arrest, or they may have been drinking and driving; fleeing the area is their desperate attempt to avoid consequences for their actions. In rare cases, the driver is inebriated, in a fugue state, or otherwise incapable of recognizing that they’ve collided with someone else. It may also be a young driver who doesn’t understand the protocols of what to do after an accident, speeding off in a panic.
In any case, you’re in charge of what you do next.
If you’re in a car that’s still functioning properly, you may be tempted to pursue the vehicle that hit you. However, it’s better to stay put. Driving after the offending driver in a rage is only going to make you both more likely to get in another accident; the driver being pursued may panic, taking unsafe evasion measures, and you may be unable to assess risk in a calm and unbiased way. You don’t want any more people getting hurt or killed – and you don’t want to dirty your own driving record – so just stay put.
If you can, try to collect and remember information about the vehicle that hit you and the person driving it. Can you see the license plate number, partially or in full? Are you able to remember the make, model, and color of the vehicle? Did you catch a glimpse of the person driving it? Any details will be helpful in eventually getting justice.
Get to Safety
After an accident, you’ll be in a vulnerable position, so you’ll want to get to safety as soon as possible. If your car is drivable, get it to the side of the road. If not, attempt to exit the vehicle when it is safe to do so and get out of the road as soon as you can. If there are passengers or other people involved in the accident, help them get to safety as well, as long as it is safe to do so; it’s unwise to move someone who is unable to move on their own, especially if there is any risk of spinal, head, or neck damage.
Call for Help
Your next responsibility is to call for help. If you or anyone else has been injured, you should contact emergency services right away. If you’re uninjured, and no one else appears to be hurt, your first call should be to the police department. No matter what, you’ll need to file a police report. This report is going to serve as valid documentation – an “official” version of events – so it’s important to ensure its completeness and accuracy. When talking to police officers, provide as much information as possible, answer questions honestly, and be sure to review the finished report before you sign it.
In addition to filing the police report, it’s a good idea to collect some evidence of your own. If you have a dash cam, review the footage of the accident and back it up so it doesn’t get lost or destroyed. If you have a phone on you, take photos of the scene of the accident from multiple angles – and some videos as well.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Depending on the nature of your car insurance policy, you’ll likely be covered in the event of a hit and run that wasn’t your fault. Contact your insurance company soon after the accident and provide them with as much information as possible.
Talk to a Lawyer
Before you accept an insurance offer or give up on finding the perpetrator of this crime, make sure you talk to a lawyer who specializes in hit and run accidents. They may be able to help you track down the person responsible for the accident and get the compensation you deserve.
If you follow these important steps, you’ll increase your safety following a hit and run accident. Not only that – you’ll also maximize your chances of being appropriately compensated for your trouble.
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